By Zhong Sheng
Australia’s federal government recently ripped up Victoria State’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreements with China. Such unreasonable political manipulation has undermined normal exchange and cooperation between the two countries and seriously damaged their mutual trust. It goes against the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people.
China has already lodged solemn representation with the Australian side and said it reserves the right to make further reactions over this matter. The Australian side must pay for its arbitrary decision.
Australia’s decision exposed typical speculative mindset and marked a bad example in international relations.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in June 2019 that Australia has always, and will continue to, welcome China’s economic growth. It also welcomes the contribution that the BRI can make to regional infrastructure investment and to regional development, he added.
However, the Australian side blatantly vetoed the agreements for win-win cooperation, saying they were inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy and the canceling was not targeting any specific country.
The fact is that Australia reviewed over 1,000 agreements and decided to cancel four, among which two agreements are signed with China. The claim that this decision is not aimed at any country does not hold water.
Some Australian politicians, sticking to the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices, have actively responding to certain major countries’ efforts to form exclusive cliques in recent years. Every once in a while, they would try to undermine normal China-Australia exchange and cooperation and poison mutual trust between the two countries. Their repeated self-contradictory rhetoric was hilarious. On one hand, they hope to destroy the bilateral relationship with China. On the other hand, they are dreaming of making a fortune by riding on China’s train of fast development. Does this really make sense?
It must be pointed out that the unreasonable practices of these Australian politicians totally go against the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership. What they are doing is reversing the wheels of history, which not only gives a blow to the confidence in cooperation of the two sides, including local governments and enterprises, but also seriously damages the image and reputation of Australia.
The BRI establishes a wide platform of global cooperation, and is a concrete step to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Following the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the BRI has blazed a trail of common development and is welcomed by the international community.
The decision of the Victoria State to cooperate with China under the BRI framework could have improved the wellbeing of the people from both sides and delivered win-win results. The governor of the state said the cooperation aimed to raise employment.
Many people in the Australian business world criticized the federal government’s canceling of the cooperation agreements and expressed their concerns. David Olsson, National President of the Australia China Business Council said compared with politics and strategies, China attaches more importance to the business opportunities brought by regional infrastructure investment. Similarly, the Australian business world also hopes to go beyond politics and grasp such genuine business opportunities, he added.
In the era of economic globalization, openness and inclusiveness are an irreversible trend. Building up walls to hinder economic laws and market rules will only hurt others without necessarily benefiting oneself.
The Australian side must abandon its Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices, view its cooperation with China objectively, and make choices that are really inconsistent with its interests.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)